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Noun Tutorial

What are nouns good for?

A noun is a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, and abstract idea. Nouns are usually the first words which small children learn. The highlighted words in the following sentences are all nouns:

Late last year our neighbours bought a goat.
Portia White was an opera singer.
The bus inspector looked at all the passengers' passes.
According to Plutarch, the library at Alexandria was destroyed in 48 B.C.
Philosophy is of little comfort to the starving.

Noun Gender

Many common nouns, like "engineer" or "teacher," can refer to men or women. Once, many English nouns would change form depending on their gender -- for example, a man was called an "author" while a woman was called an "authoress" -- but this use of gender-specific nouns is very rare today. Those that are still used occasionally tend to refer to occupational categories, as in the following sentences.

David Garrick was a very prominent eighteenth-century actor.
Sarah Siddons was at the height of her career as an actress in the 1780s.
The manager was trying to write a want ad, but he couldn't decide whether he was advertising for a "waiter" or a "waitress"

Proper and Common Nouns

Proper nouns are words that name a specific person, place, thing or idea. Proper nouns are capitalized so the reader can tell them apart from common nouns.
Common nouns do not name a specific person, place, thing or idea. Common nouns are not capitalized unless they are at the beginning of a sentence or part of a title.

Proper - George Washington Common - man
Proper - White House Common - building
Proper - United States Constitution Common - document

Regular and Irregular Nouns

Most nouns in English have both singular and plural forms, and the plural is usually formed by adding "-s" to the singular. Most nouns in English have both singular and plural forms, and the plural is usually formed by adding “-s” to the singular. This page explains the basic ways of forming regular plurals in English. For information about forming irregular plurals see Irrgular Plurals of Nouns.

How to form the plural:
Noun ending s, x, ch or sh Add -es

Consonant + y Change y to i then add -es

Most others Add -s

There are many types of IRREGULAR plural nouns, but these are the most common:

Ends with -fe Change f to v then Add -s

Ends with -f Change f to v then Add -es

Ends with -o Add -es

Ends with -us Change -us to -i

Ends with -is Change -is to -es

Ends with -on Change -on to -a

ALL KINDS Change the vowel
Change the word or Add a different ending
child children
person people
mouse mice

Singular and plural are the same
sheep sheep
deer deer
fish fish

For a list of the most used irregular nouns cut and paste the link below

Irregular Nouns

More Irregular Nouns

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns, a special class, name groups [things] composed of members [usually people]. Check them out below:
army, audience, board, cabinet, class, committee, company, corporation council, department, faculty, family, firm, group, jury, majority minority, navy, public, school, senate, society, team
and troupe.
Use correct verbs and pronouns with collective nouns.
Each noun from the list above is a single thing. That thing, however, is made up of more than one person. You cannot have a committee, team, or family of one; you need at least two people who compose the unit.

Because people behave as both herd animals and solitary creatures, collective nouns can be either singular or plural, depending on context. In writing, this double status often causes agreement errors. How do you tell if a collective noun is singular or plural? What verbs and pronouns do you use with the collective noun?

Here is the key: Imagine a flock of pigeons pecking at birdseed on the ground. Suddenly, a cat races out of the bushes. What do the pigeons do? They fly off as a unit in an attempt to escape the predator, wheeling through the sky in the same direction.

People often behave in the same manner, doing one thing in unison with the other members of their group. When these people are part of a collective noun, that noun becomes singular and requires singular verbs and pronouns. As you read the following examples, notice that all members of the collective noun are doing the same thing at the same time:

Every afternoon the baseball team follows its coach out to the hot field for practice.

Team = singular; follows = a singular verb; its = a singular pronoun. All members of the team arrive at the same place at the same time.

Today, Dr. Ribley's class takes its first 100-item exam.

Class = singular; takes = a singular verb; its = a singular pronoun. All members of the class are testing at the same time.

The jury agrees that the state prosecutors did not provide enough evidence, so its verdict is not guilty.

Jury = singular; agrees = a singular verb; its = a singular pronoun. All members of the jury are thinking the same way.

Now imagine three house cats in the living room. Are the cats doing the same thing at the same time? Not this group! One cat might be sleeping on top of the warm television. Another might be grooming on the sofa. A third animal might be perched on the windowsill, watching the world outside. There is one group of animals, but the members of that group are all doing their own thing.

Members of collective nouns can behave in a similar fashion. When the members are acting as individuals, the collective noun is plural and requires plural verbs and pronouns. As you read these examples, notice that the members of the collective noun are not acting in unison:

After the three-hour practice under the brutal sun, the team shower, change into their street clothes, and head to their air-conditioned homes.

Team = plural; shower, change, head = plural verbs; their = a plural pronoun. The teammates are dressing into their individual outfits and leaving in different directions for their individual homes.

After the long exam, the class start their research papers on famous mathematicians.

Class = plural; start = a plural verb; their = a plural pronoun. The students are beginning their own research papers—in different places, at different times, on different mathematicians.

The jury disagree about the guilt of the accused and have told the judge that they are hopelessly deadlocked.

Jury = plural; disagree, have told = plural verbs; they = a plural pronoun. Not everyone on the jury is thinking the same way.

Whenever you cannot decide if a collective noun is singular or plural, exercise your options as a writer. You have two ways that you can compose the sentence without causing an agreement error: 1) insert the word members after the collective noun [jury members, committee members, board members], or 2) use an entirely different word [players instead of team, students instead of class, soldiers instead of army]. Then you can use plural verbs and pronouns without worrying about making mistakes or sounding unnatural.

Abstract and Concrete Nouns

One class of nouns is abstract. Your five senses cannot detect this group of nouns.They have no physical existence, you can't see, hear, touch, smell or taste them. The opposite of an abstract noun is a concrete noun.

Check out the following example:
When Joseph dived into the violent waves to rescue a drowning puppy, his bravery amazed the crowd of fishermen standing on the dock.

Bravery, one of the nouns in this sentence, is an example of an abstract noun. You can see Joseph, the water, and the crowd. But you cannot see bravery itself. Bravery has no color, size, shape, sound, odor, flavor, or texture; it has no quality that you can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. Any noun that escapes your five senses is an abstract noun.

adoration, artistry, belief, bravery, calm, charity, childhood, comfort, compassion, dexterity, ego, failure, faith, feelings, friendship, happiness, hate, honesty, hope, idea, impression, infatuation, joy, law, liberty, love, loyalty, maturity, memory, omen, peace, pride, principle, power, redemption, romance, sadness, sensitivity, skill, sleep, success, sympathy, talent, thrill, truth and wit.

A concrete noun is the name of something or someone that we experience through our senses, sight, hearing, smell, touch or taste. Most nouns are concrete nouns. The opposite of a concrete noun is an abstract noun.

For example:-

Cats, dogs, tables, chairs, buses, and teachers are all concrete nouns.

Irregular Concrete Nouns

All about Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Countable Nouns
Countable nouns are easy to recognize. They are things that we can count. For example: "pen". We can count pens. We can have one, two, three or more pens. Here are some more countable nouns:

•dog, cat, animal, man, person
•bottle, box, litre
•coin, note, dollar
•cup, plate, fork
•table, chair, suitcase, bag
Countable nouns can be singular or plural:

•My dog is playing.
•My dogs are hungry.
We can use the indefinite article a/an with countable nouns:

•A dog is an animal.
When a countable noun is singular, we must use a word like a/the/my/this with it:

•I want an orange. (not I want orange.)
•Where is my bottle? (not Where is bottle?)
When a countable noun is plural, we can use it alone:

•I like oranges.
•Bottles can break.
We can use some and any with countable nouns:

•I've got some dollars.
•Have you got any pens?
We can use a few and many with countable nouns:

•I've got a few dollars.
•I haven't got many pens.

Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc that we cannot divide into separate elements. We cannot "count" them. For example, we cannot count "milk". We can count "bottles of milk" or "litres of milk", but we cannot count "milk" itself. Here are some more uncountable nouns:

•music, art, love, happiness
•advice, information, news
•furniture, luggage
•rice, sugar, butter, water
•electricity, gas, power
•money, currency
We usually treat uncountable nouns as singular. We use a singular verb. For example:

•This news is very important.
•Your luggage looks heavy.
We do not usually use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns. We cannot say "an information" or "a music". But we can say a something of:

•a piece of news
•a bottle of water
•a grain of rice
We can use some and any with uncountable nouns:

•I've got some money.
•Have you got any rice?
We can use a little and much with uncountable nouns:

•I've got a little money.
•I haven't got much rice.

Compound Nouns



Words can be combined to form compound nouns. These are very common, and new combinations are invented almost daily. They normally have two parts. The second part identifies the object or person in question (man, friend, tank, table, room). The first part tells us what kind of object or person it is, or what its purpose is (police, boy, water, dining, bed):

What type / what purpose What or who
police man
boy friend
water tank
dining table

The two parts may be written in a number of ways :

1. as one word.
Example: policeman, boyfriend

2. as two words joined with a hyphen.
Example: dining-table

3. as two separate words.
Example: fish tank.

There are no clear rules about this - so write the common compounds that you know well as one word, and the others as two words.

The two parts may be: Examples:
noun + noun bedroom
water tank
printer cartridge
noun + verb rainfall
noun + adverb hanger-on
verb + noun washing machine
driving licence
swimming pool
verb + adverb* lookout
adjective + noun greenhouse
adjective + verb dry-cleaning
public speaking
adverb + noun onlooker
adverb + verb* output

Compound nouns often have a meaning that is different from the two separate words.

Stress is important in pronunciation, as it distinguishes between a compound noun (e.g. greenhouse) and an adjective with a noun (e.g. green house).

In compound nouns, the stress usually falls on the first syllable:

a 'greenhouse = place where we grow plants (compound noun)
a green 'house = house painted green (adjective and noun)
a 'bluebird = type of bird (compound noun)
a blue 'bird = any bird with blue feathers (adjective and noun)

* Many common compound nouns are formed from phrasal verbs (verb + adverb or adverb + verb).

Examples: breakdown, outbreak, outcome, cutback, drive-in, drop-out, feedback, flyover, hold-up, hangover, outlay, outlet, inlet, makeup, output, set-back, stand-in, takeaway, walkover.

the hyphenated form, such as daughter-in-law, master-at-arms, over-the-counter, six-pack, six-year-old, mass-produced;

and the open form, such as post office, real estate, middle class, full moon, half sister, attorney general.

Gerund Nouns

A gerund (often known as an -ing word) is a noun formed from a verb by adding -ing. It can follow a preposition, adjective and most often another verb.

For example:

•I enjoy walking.